Apec trade ministers push regional FTA

The Nation | November 5, 2014

Apec trade ministers push regional FTA

Petchanet Pratruangkrai

This week 21 trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation group will make plans for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP), which supporters say will ensure sustainable growth in the region.

Commerce Minister Chatchai Sarikulya is scheduled to meet with the Beijing government and Chinese traders to discuss ways to sell more Thai rice to China and tighten cooperation.

"China is one of the high-potential countries to import more rice from Thailand. Besides the 1-million-tonne contract, China should place more orders for Thai rice," he said.

The general said he would lead companies to China to seek greater trade and investment opportunities through business matching with local enterprises.

After the Apec summit, he will meet with Chinese officials and local rice traders to encourage them to buy more rice from Thailand.

China should procure more rice to meet domestic demand and support countries that are its friends, he said.

The Thai government will also encourage China to import more Thai rubber and establish manufacturing operations in Thailand as measures to drive up the rubber price, Chatchai said.

Thawatchai Sophastienphong, director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, said that this year Apec countries should come up with a concrete agenda to move forward the FTAAP, as they agree that the free-trade agreement will help drive economic growth in the region amid the global uncertainty.

Deputy Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn will lead a Thai delegation to this year’s Apec Ministers Meeting in Beijing on Friday and Saturday. This will be followed by the Apec CEO summit of leading businesspeople in the region on Sunday and Monday and the Apec Leaders Summit on November 11 and 12.

At this year’s conference, China as the host country has set the theme of "Shaping the Future through Asia-Pacific Partnership".

Apec members will discuss three key issues - advancing regional economic integration; promoting innovation development, economic reform and growth; and strengthening comprehensive connectivity and infrastructure development.

After the meeting, China will sum up the agreement of all members and issue statements to the public.

Apec economies have set the goal to finalise the FTAAP by the end of next year. They aim to liberalise trade in goods and services among member economies and reduce non-tariff barriers.

Besides the Apec meeting, Thailand will also discuss bilateral agreements with Hong Kong and Australia.

Thailand and Hong Kong may come up with an agreement to promote economic and investment growth for both sides.

Thailand and Australia will talk further on increasing service liberalisation after the Thailand-Australia FTA had been implemented for almost 10 years.

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source: The Nation